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Old 07-28-2020, 05:19 PM
Whit Whit is offline
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Default 3 Revolver Thoughts

It would seem from reading threads on this forum that there is a high level of interest in 3 revolvers, especially K, L and N frames. Those Smith revolvers seem to be valued, sought out and popular. However, it would also appear that 3 J frames are not quite so esteemed. Perhaps my perceptions are incorrect. If not, to what would you attribute popularity of the three larger frame sizes compared to the J frame?

My convoluted logic would conclude that if one frame size with 3 barrels were desirable, all the frame sizes in that barrel length would enjoy the same level of popularity. The one reason that might be the answer to the question is that the 2 J frame might, emphasis on might, be easier to conceal. Since the ability to conceal well is the strong suite of the J frame some might perceive the extra inch of barrel to be more than they want to conceal.

Correct my perception or put forth another plausible cause for the little J 3 not being as popular as its big brothers. Thanks, stay safe and be blessed.

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Old 07-28-2020, 05:38 PM
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It depends on what it's intended use is, but if we're talking about Consealed Carry, then a 3" Barrel on a Revolver is the ideal length as far as I'm concerned, just short enough to easily conceal without gimping ballistics performance by greatly reducing velocity and sending more unburnt powder out the muzzle than anything else.

For open carry, (particularly in the woods) might as well go with a 4" Barrel for extra performance.

For hunting, 6" or more is generally the way to go.
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Whit View Post

The one reason that might be the answer to the question is that the 2 J frame might, emphasis on might, be easier to conceal.
There's no "might" too it. The 2 in. is easier too conceal. The front pocket of my Wranglers won't completely cover a 3 in. barrel. Larry
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:45 PM
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I can only speak for myself, but I have always thought that there was a perfect length barrel to correspond with frame size/sight combinations, as follows:

1 7/8"/2" for J frame (fixed or adjustable sights)
3" for K/L frame (fixed or adjustable sights)
4" for N frame (fixed sights)
Longer than 4" for N frame (adjustable sights)

Maybe I am strange in this regard, but these combinations just look right to me.
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:50 PM
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^^^Here is your answer^^^

There is quite a bit of difference in the dimensions and carrying qualities of J, K, L, and N-frame revolvers, and they serve a broad range of individual requirements. For the J-frames that market niche seems to be concealment, light weight, and ease of use. For the N-frames the market niche seems to be magnum calibers, maximum effectiveness under a wide range of circumstances. For the medium (K and L frames) the market niche seems to be allowing the user to select one handgun that fills many needs; i.e.: not so large or heavy that it is difficult to carry, but still capable of delivering serious firepower and accuracy in the hands of an accomplished shooter.

Apples and oranges do not compare very well. There is no such thing as the perfect revolver for every user or application. All we can do is evaluate our needs as best we can and equip ourselves accordingly.
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:52 PM
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One reason the three inch is so popular is that in the K/L frame guns the shorter barreled guns have a shorter ejector rod. The three inch has a full length ejector which makes ejection easier for law enforcement and competition shooting. While the shorter guns probably conceal a bit better, the three inch, at least for me, is equivalent to Goldilocks' "Just right" length.

But, I may be biased.

66-5


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Old 07-28-2020, 07:09 PM
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Don't understand it at all. I really like what few 3" revolvers that I have. Perhaps it's the triggers. The "Js" aren't quite as good as the larger frames.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
^^^Here is your answer^^^

There is quite a bit of difference in the dimensions and carrying qualities of J, K, L, and N-frame revolvers, and they serve a broad range of individual requirements. For the J-frames that market niche seems to be concealment, light weight, and ease of use. For the N-frames the market niche seems to be magnum calibers, maximum effectiveness under a wide range of circumstances. For the medium (K and L frames) the market niche seems to be allowing the user to select one handgun that fills many needs; i.e.: not so large or heavy that it is difficult to carry, but still capable of delivering serious firepower and accuracy in the hands of an accomplished shooter.

Apples and oranges do not compare very well. There is no such thing as the perfect revolver for every user or application. All we can do is evaluate our needs as best we can and equip ourselves accordingly.
We all have preferences. Love my K frame 13-3 and 65-3. As well as my 36 and 36-1. The gun that spends the most time in my rotation for CCW is my 3 inch 60-15 which is easily hidden in my pictured holster from Lobo Gunleather.

Jh
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:59 PM
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Since you asked...

I think the 3" K-frames are the best-balanced carry revolvers. Not too big, not too small, not too long, not too short. It handles well. It carries well. The 3" barrel provides a full-length ejector rod. Out of the guns I've sold, my 3" 65 is the one I regret the most.

I don't really have an interest in L- or N-frames. The only L-frames that interest me are the.44s, the 3" 696 or the 2.75" 69. N-frames are too big for me.

The only J-frames that interest me are the 2" guns. The J-frames' biggest strength is their concealability. A 2" J-frame can be carried in a belt holster, shoulder holster, pocket holster, or ankle holster. A 3" J-frame can be problematic, at best, in some of those methods, and, to me, doesn't offer a significant advantage over either a 2" J-frame or a 3" K-frame.

I will add that I also like 2" K-frames. I used to have a 2" 64. Very handy size. Fast out of the holster. An added advantage of the 2" K-frame is that in the event of an attempted disarm, you'll have much more leverage over the gun than your attacker since you've got the full-size grip in your hand and your attacker has a little 2" barrel. For similar reasons, the 2" J-frame is considered one of the most difficult guns to disarm. For me, the 2" K-frame offers some of the concealability advantage of the 2" J-frame with some of the shootability of the 3" K-frame.

But nobody really has a "wrong" opinion. We like what we like, and prefer what we prefer, based on our needs/wants and intended usage.

TL;DR: 3" K-frames are ideally balanced for carrying and shooting, 2" J-frames are ideally suited for concealment.

Just my opinion.
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Old 07-28-2020, 08:35 PM
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Every Smith and Ruger revolver I have but 1 is a 3 inch. And I think I have 9.
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Old 07-28-2020, 09:05 PM
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I have never understood the concept of a 3" J-frame, except for the collector value. The J is supposed to be VERY concealable. That extra inch ruins the concept IMHO.

I carry a M649 routinely - I could never pop a 3" gun like that into a pocket.



It so happens that I have always loved 2" K frames. I had a bevy of snubby K and J frames before the fire of 2018. So many got water stains I sold them all but for the M649 above and these 2:

M-10



M64

But this one was a 4" M64 until I had it made into a concealed carry piece:



But for L frames, well, that's different. I have 4 in different barrel lengths but this 3" 686+ is just the bee's knees perfection:

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Old 07-28-2020, 09:57 PM
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They just LOOK perfect!
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:20 AM
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Its fairly straightforward. J's are typically pocket carried, not all, but typically. 3" barrel in a pocket is a no-go for most and once you have to carry on the hip you might as well go up to a K or L, so they aren't in as a high a demand as the snubs for EDC purposes. The 3" medium and large frames are the sweet spot for carry because they conceal better than the 4"+ models and still have a full length ejection rod.
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:05 AM
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for holster carry i find the 3" + 4" j + k frames just as easy to conceal as the 2" ones -
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:00 AM
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Cuiadado! Buy one 3 inch k frame and you will quickly find your self wanting more.

Others have answered the question 2 inch Js for pocket and 3 inch Ks for belt. No need for 3 inch J because the 3 inch K conceals just as easy.
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:58 AM
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I enjoy my 3" 36-1 but it's best as a light holster gun. I carried it IWB. My 3" 66 (and the 3" 13 that my ex-finacee declined to sell back to me) have superb balance and carry. I have / had a couple of 3" N frame LH specials... a 657 and a 624. I liked the bulldog feel of the heavier 41M mag barrel 657 over the smaller profile 624 .44SP. I've never handled a 3 1/2" 27 but would like to heft it.
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:09 AM
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I enjoy shooting my 3" Ks as much as any other gun in my accumulation. I frankly never pay attention to the "balance" parameter that so many folks talk about, though. I pay more attention to full length guide rod, little difference in sights from a 4", etc.

As for Js, I love the 3s, but I realize they're for belt carry, not pocket, and that's just fine by me. I love the ease of ejecting spent rounds, and they handle more like their big brothers than their shorter twins. I have a few 2s for the pocket when needed, like a quick trip down to Walmart. I came across a slightly older but new condition 638 not too long ago, from when the finish didn't look like Clearcoat over silver wrapping paper. (The latest addition always seems to get more attention 'til the newness wears off, doesn't it?) I throw it my Safariland Model 25 holster, which I've found is ideal. It's Safari's plastic covered on the outside with suede leather, glued and stitched around the edges, molded on the inner side but not on the outside. The gun comes out nice and smooth with zero snag. Highly recommended! In fact, I liked it so much that I promptly picked one up for pocket semis, in this case a nice little Kahr CM-9 that disappears in my pocket.
As I get older and don't travel to places where the hazards of "social Justice" lurk around every corner, I don't carry the Ks as much any more. But they're still my first choice if I belt carry.

Seems to me the quest for just the "right" holster is like trying to find just the right gun. Number one is personal taste, followed by pretty much everything else. I've never considered "necessity" other than getting something within the parameters my old job set for duty guns. Same with holsters. I always appreciate good advice, but it always comes down to whether or not it works for me, and I'm not afraid to "buy and try," either. I have 3 18-gallon Rubbermaid tubs full to the top that will attest to that!
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:54 AM
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I have a 36-6 3" that I am very fond of. It handles well and is accurate. The last thing that I would want is to lose it in an evidence locker if I had to use it. I decided once I found a new 686+ 3" available, that it would take the 36-6's place as a carry piece. Up front, I've never handled a 3" K, so I can't speak to their advantages. Because of my injuries, brace, etc, I can't pocket carry a revolver in my pants, so any revolver that I would be found carrying would either be IWB/OWB or in a shoulder holster.

I am not generally a "scaredy cat", but in today's social environment, you never know what you will encounter. For when it is not practical to carry a semi-auto, I like the fact that I have 2 more (more powerful) rounds in the cylinder than with my 36-6.

For me, a 3" can be comfortable on my waist or in a coat pocket.
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by lawandorder View Post
Cuiadado! Buy one 3 inch k frame and you will quickly find your self wanting more.

Others have answered the question 2 inch Js for pocket and 3 inch Ks for belt. No need for 3 inch J because the 3 inch K conceals just as easy.
I love 3 inch Ks. If I were still chasing bad guys, Id be carrying my 65-3 with Culina grips. Or my nickel 13-3. As it is today, as a retiree, I carry my 60-15 3inch because it weighs 35% less than my Ks, and it hides easily in my cargo shorts or under a tshirt and still shoots .357 effectively. Just my thinking. Going into a war zone, my 325 Night Guard would be a likely choice.
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:29 PM
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A 3" 60-10 think micro 5 shot 686 is the perfect field gun to carry along with a rifle or shotgun..... or working around the cabin.

As a stand alone you can't beat a 3" 66 or 65 for concealed carry........

and a 4" 686 is IMO the best all around duty/general purpose/utility gun east of the Mississippi.

Each frame size and barrel length fulfills a niche. Which is why we tend to have more than one..........
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISCS Yoda View Post
I have never understood the concept of a 3" J-frame, except for the collector value. The J is supposed to be VERY concealable. That extra inch ruins the concept IMHO.

But for L frames, well, that's different. I have 4 in different barrel lengths but this 3" 686+ is just the bee's knees perfection:

I have a 642 P.C. Talo and a 3" 686+ and agree. I believe there are valid reasons for longer barrels on larger frame revolvers, but the 3" 686+ is just sweet!
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Old 07-29-2020, 01:52 PM
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Most people carry J-frames in the pocket. a 3 inch J frame is much harder to do this with. I can get my 3 inch SP101 into my front pocket, but it's not as comfy as a 2 incher.

For a belt gun, the difference betwixt a 3 and 2.5 inch isn't much. The difference between a 4 and a 3 inch *can* be meaningful with larger frames (L and N), both in weight and balance.
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Old 07-29-2020, 02:13 PM
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The first J-frame I ever bought was a nickel M36 3" HB/RB. It wasn't my first choice, but back in those days the demand for J's was so great that they didn't sit in display cases for very long. Especially in shops that catered to LE. It was the only M36 model I could find, and M60's were even more scarce in my neck of the woods.

That 3" snub shot virtually as well as my 4" duty revolver, and it made using the 158gr LSCWHP +P (my preferred load in those days) pretty comfortable.

The other 3" S&W revolver I own is a M65, which I inherited from the estate of a close friend when he passed.

As others have mentioned, one of the practical advantages of the 3" S&W models over the 2"-2 1/2" models is the full length extraction of empty cases.

Using older style HP loads, like the LSWCHP +P (also called a LHP), having that extra 1/2"-1" of barrel length might make a difference in degree of potential expansion (or some expansion, versus none), too.
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Old 07-29-2020, 02:15 PM
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I've not seen the reason for a 3" J-frame. They look out of balance. I've always thought of the J-frame as a pocket/ankle gun, and the 3" barrel defeats both of those uses.

I think 3" K-frames look great and balance really well for a carry gun. I think the guns are easier to conceal than a 4" version, but I know that's subjective and could be handled with certain types of holsters. For the holster styles I like to use, the 4" is too long.

For L-frames, I have a 2.75" model 69 and a 4" model 586. I bought the 69 for concealment in a tactical pack, so the 2.75" was perfect while the 4.25" would have been too long. On the other hand, I think the L-frames look best in a 4", so that's why the 586 has a 4" barrel. But that would only be used by me in a non-concealed, outside-the-waistband type of holster.
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Old 07-29-2020, 02:30 PM
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One other thing I've noticed now and again is that "average" female shooters seem to do better shooting a 3" J-frame than a 2". Dunno if it's psychological, or they just liked the extra bit of weight and forward balance.
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Old 07-29-2020, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ContinentalOp View Post
Since you asked...

I think the 3" K-frames are the best-balanced carry revolvers. Not too big, not too small, not too long, not too short. It handles well. It carries well. The 3" barrel provides a full-length ejector rod. Out of the guns I've sold, my 3" 65 is the one I regret the most.

I don't really have an interest in L- or N-frames. The only L-frames that interest me are the.44s, the 3" 696 or the 2.75" 69. N-frames are too big for me.

The only J-frames that interest me are the 2" guns. The J-frames' biggest strength is their concealability. A 2" J-frame can be carried in a belt holster, shoulder holster, pocket holster, or ankle holster. A 3" J-frame can be problematic, at best, in some of those methods, and, to me, doesn't offer a significant advantage over either a 2" J-frame or a 3" K-frame.

I will add that I also like 2" K-frames. I used to have a 2" 64. Very handy size. Fast out of the holster. An added advantage of the 2" K-frame is that in the event of an attempted disarm, you'll have much more leverage over the gun than your attacker since you've got the full-size grip in your hand and your attacker has a little 2" barrel. For similar reasons, the 2" J-frame is considered one of the most difficult guns to disarm. For me, the 2" K-frame offers some of the concealability advantage of the 2" J-frame with some of the shootability of the 3" K-frame.

But nobody really has a "wrong" opinion. We like what we like, and prefer what we prefer, based on our needs/wants and intended usage.

TL;DR: 3" K-frames are ideally balanced for carrying and shooting, 2" J-frames are ideally suited for concealment.

Just my opinion.
Never overlook the value of that full-length ejector rod! That is one thing that the little snubbies really suffer from, especially when you have a case or two that wants to stick in the chamber(s) and make you life difficult.

The full-length ejector rod is a definite plus for the 3" S&W revolvers.
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Old 07-29-2020, 05:28 PM
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Been through this song and dance on many occasion, OP.

I've owned and shot most of them. LH, factory small-batch runs, etc.

As others have mentioned, 3" can heavily depend on the variant (frame size, particularly), and a person's experience and usage.

In trying to be objective, I will say that I have found it to be as good as the user. Shorter sight radius lends to unforgiving shot characteristics and marksmanship.

It seems like every 5 years or so, I vary between long-barrel revolvers and short. My only solution has been to buy most, keep the best, and don't look back.
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:19 AM
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It is my personal opinion that a 3" J-frame is the best when used with a conventional holster. The 2" is for pocket carry with or without a pocket holster. If you add a conventional holster the concealability edge of the 2" J-frame is lost. JMHO-YMMV.............
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